Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 15 News List

MUSIC: From the bottom of his heart

By Andrew C.C. Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

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For a few short years in the early 1990s, Richard Marx had become a cliche, relentlessly tagged to his over-aired ballads Right Here Waiting and Now and Forever. The man who sold 30 million albums after the first 10 years of his career had turned into VH1 fodder.

Then he surprised the music industry by reinventing himself as a writer and producer capable of penning songs for superstar singers as diverse as Barbra Streisand, Luther Vandross, Leann Rimes, Vince Gil, Sarah Brightman and Michael Bolton. Behind the boy-band face lies a soulful, talented songsmith with a knack for cranking out heartwarming, evergreen ballads.

“It’s mostly luck that I have done well,” Marx said in a phone interview last month when asked how he had achieved such success. “I do it because it’s just something I love.”

Dance With My Father, the poignant tribute to Luther Vandross’ father co-written by Marx, scored the late R ’n’ B wunderkind’s first No. 1 hit and garnered the Song of the Year award at the Grammies in 2003. In 2005, Marx penned the runaway hit Better Life for Keith Urban (better known as Nicole Kidman’s husband), producing the biggest hit in Marx’s career.

Marx is revered by his peers as much as he is adored by his fans. He was a member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band in 2006 and is currently touring with Vertical Horizon’s lead singer Matt Scannell.

In September 2008 Marx made a foray into rock with his album Emotional Remains, his first new studio release in five years.

“I’m inspired all the time. When I am in the gym, when I am walking outside or when I’m doing stuff in my home,” said Marx, who had written 13 No. 1 hits as of last year. “I have notes of music everywhere. Then I have to make time to piece these segments of music together in the studio.”

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

WHAT: Richard Marx 2010 World Tour

WHEN: April 17 at 7:30pm

WHERE: Taipei Arena (台北小巨蛋), 2, Nanjing E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市南京東路四段2號)

ADMISSION: NT$800 to NT$4,200, available through ERA ticketing outlets or online at www.ticket.com.tw

ON THE NET: www.richardmarx.com


Asked why his songs appeal to audiences across the globe, Marx offered his take on the art of balladry: “It describes emotions everyone has felt in life. Whether you have been in love or you are imagining being in love, ballads are emotional and universal.”

Having grown up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career, Marx is dismissive of TV talent shows and the quick route to fame they promise. “I say just ignore all [the] hype and spend time to work on your craft. Play in a band. Or work on your songwriting.”

“It [American Idol] provides opportunities for singers who need the platform, but it can’t help those who are not ready yet,” said Marx. “The idol phenomenon has been around for nine years but it has produced very few real stars. In the end, you need the music to connect with the audiences.”

As to what to expect on April 17 when he plays Taipei Arena, his gig “will be a ‘greatest hits’ show plus a couple of new songs from my new album,” said Marx. “There won’t be big productions or stage effects. It will just be the music, the song and me. It will be you spending time with Richard Marx.”

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